Despite suffering a first-round exit in the 2020 Playoffs, the Portland Trail Blazers have made it clear that they have no intention of trading Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum this offseason. However, there is still a possibility for them to change their mind, especially if they are presented with an intriguing offer. In a recent article, Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report suggested a blockbuster deal that may convince the Trail Blazers to break up their explosive backcourt duo of Lillard and McCollum this fall.
In the proposed scenario, the Trail Blazers would be sending a package that includes McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris. The suggested deal would undoubtedly bury the Trail Blazers deep into the luxury tax hell for a half-decade. However, right now, they aren’t about saving money but more on maximizing the championship window of Lillard.
As Hughes noted, the potential acquisition of Embiid and Harris would give the Trail Blazers a major frontcourt boost which could improve their chances of fully dominating the loaded Western Conference and bringing home the Larry O’Brien Trophy in the 2020-21 NBA season.
“Harris is grossly overpaid, but he’s an excellent third option who can play either forward spot. Don’t worry, Gary Trent Jr. will still get to start at the 3. Embiid is a hulking force on both ends—a pick-and-roll partner the likes of which Lillard has never had. And if the Blazers want to take advantage of Lillard’s standstill shooting (while giving him a much deserved break once in a while), Embiid remains one of the last few players worthy of consistent post touches.”
Trading two fan-favorites in McCollum and Nurkic would definitely break the hearts of lots of Trail Blazers’ fans, but it would be worth it if it means acquiring a player of Embiid’s caliber. Nurkic may have an impressive stint in Portland, but he’s clearly not in the same league as Embiid. Aside from being a dominant force under the basket and a quality rim protector, Embiid is also capable of knocking down shots from beyond the arc.
Sharing the court with a stretch big like him would greatly benefit Lillard as it would make it easier for him to penetrate the basket or kick the ball out when he’s trapped by the opposing team’s defense. Harris may have failed to live up to expectations from the massive contract he signed last summer, but he remains a reliable contributor on both ends of the floor. Starting a new journey in Portland could give him the opportunity to bring back the player that was once considered one of the best active power forwards in the league.